Tag Archives: Minnesota History

National Archives Month – A Minnesota perspective

 

We are the only species on the planet, so far as we know, to have invented a communal memory stored neither in our genes nor in our brains. The warehouse of this memory is called the library― Carl Sagan

 As National Archives Month 2017 enters the annals of history, it seems like a good time to delve into a mix of archival collections designed to pique the interest of Minnesotans- not because they’re writing a doctoral dissertation or going to court, simply because they love to learn about people, events and stories that weren’t in the curriculum.

Though you may have read everything there is to know about the professional contributions of Gratia Countryman, a picture is worth a thousand words:   http://digitalcollections.hclib.org/cdm/landingpage/collection/GCountryman?_ga=2.217022102.1812135875.1508609902-1599511560.1497032955

The photo is one of thousands of archival records preserved and made accessible through the Hosmer Collection maintained at the Minneapolis Central Library.  Celebrate National Archives Month by treating yourself to a leisurely learning break at Special Collections, 4th floor of the Minneapolis Library:   http://www.hclib.org/specialcollections Visit the Athenaeum (http://www.hclib.org/about/locations/minneapolis-athenaeum) and take time to experience the exhibits of treasures mined from the archives.

The University of Minnesota Archives at the University of Minnesota Libraries are world renowned by scholars yet sometimes a bit beyond the reach of the rest of us.  Fortunately, the Libraries are “metaphorically” opening the archives doors in wonderful ways, including, for example:

  • The Children’s Literature Research Collections (aka the Kerlan) embraces the digital possibilities with publication of   Children’s Book Art: Techniques and Media.  The unique resource brings to life the works of over 65 artists whose work is based on primary sources held in the Kerlan Collection of the University of Minnesota’s Archives and Special Collections. (https://z.umn.edu/digital) — (https://www.lib.umn.edu/special)
  • The Minnesota Nice series. First Fridays talks about the holdings and happenings in the U of M archives.  Beginning in 2018 here are the scheduled sessions – all free and open, Noon at the Elmer L. Andersen Library, Room 120.
  • In-depth public lectures and discussions of specific archival collections, such as this forthcoming discussion of the work of James Wright. James Wright: A Life in Poetry is a sweeping biography by Jonathan Blunk, based on extensive research by Blunk in the James Wright Papers, held at the U of M Libraries’ Upper Midwest Literary Archives.(https://www.lib.umn.edu/mss) Note: Reading and discussion of James Wright on Monday, December 4, 7:00 PM at the Elmer L. Andersen Library.( https://www.continuum.umn.edu/event/james-wright-life-poetry/)

National Archives month 2017 is an opportunity for each of us to seriously reflect on the unique and essential role of archives in the digital age.  Archives are everywhere, not only in majestic buildings that bear the name but in local government agencies, public libraries, colleges, places of worship, corporations, nonprofit organizations and myriad other settings. Their efforts are our best and only defense against alternative facts.

One way to get a sense of the expanse of the state’s myriad archival collections is not only easy but seasonal: Clear your calendar, settle into an easy chair, turn off your cell, then click on this “work-in-progress:  Minnesota Reflections (http://reflections.mndigital.org/about).

Archivists work in a complex and collaborative way to meet the information needs of diverse users – from scholars to genealogists to inventors to journalists and curious Minnesotans of every stripe.  To share resources and opportunities to learn, archivists shape networks of various stripes.  The collaborative that links a mix of archives and archivists in this area is the Twin Cities Archivists Roundtable (https://tcartmn.org/about/ (aka T-CART).  T-CART and guests will be meeting this month (https://tcartmn.org/minnesota-archives-symposium/)   The T-Cart website lists the names and contact information for several related archives and archivist networks, including these:

To underscore the urgency of archival awareness and the imperative to tend to preservation of the public record was less worrisome in October 2011 when Archives Month warranted this comparatively frivolous post. https://marytreacy.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=1078&action=edit 2011

And just to add a bit of flourish to the topic, let it be known that Tom Hanks has been named recipient of the National Archives Foundation Records of Achievement Award.

https://www.archivesfoundation.org/news/tom-hanks-receive-national-archives-foundation-records-achievement-award/

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/tom-hanks-history-national-archives-foundation_us_59ec777ce4b0958c46829e72)

Enjoy this Halloween greeting  from the U of M Archives https://www.continuum.umn.edu/2017/10/underwater-pumpkin-carving-bio-medical-library/?utm_source=continuum+-+News+from+University+of+Minnesota+Libraries&utm_campaign=6d189433b6News_from_RSSFEED_TITLE_for_RSSFEED_DATE_3_17_2015&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_35496412ca-6d189433b6-174925501

 

 

 

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Infinite hope kindles revival of St. Paul’s Rondo Neighborhood

 

We must accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

 

These words of Dr. King ring true as preparations move into high gear for Rondo Days, the week of celebration that fills St. Paul’s Rondo Neighborhood with music, dance, great food, sports and, most of all, stories of a community that never lost infinite hope. One has to be “of an age” to remember the pain and “finite disappointment” wrought by flagrant racism that paved the way for Interstate 94. Since that 1960’s travesty that would have destroyed a lesser community I have never traveled that strip of concrete without feeling the pain.

“Back in the day, my high school rose to its sandstone glory on the fringe of Rondo – we took the bus and got to know the neighbor kids as we walked the last few blocks; we traipsed down to Hallie Q. for mandatory gym class. Though we may have thought of ourselves and our school as part of the friendly neighborhood, local residents must have viewed us as uniformed interlopers with no sense of style… Still, those high school years helped me know a neighborhood of which I was not a part but which I experienced as home to loving parents who went to work early, children who hopped, skipped and jumped with joy as they played sidewalk games, a neighborhood overflowing with clubs and playgrounds, schools, countless churches, hairdressers, tailors and corner groceries that met the daily needs of a vibrant and resilient neighborhood that happened to be, in the language of the day, “Negro.”

Then came the bullies and the bulldozers. Rondo was decimated. Homes were leveled, many residents were forced to move, social and commercial life paused….but only paused. Though the strong people of Rondo “accepted finite disappointment” they never lost “infinite hope.”

That was then, this is now. Today the Rondo community is gearing up for Rondo Days, a celebration of the triumph of “infinite hope!”   Rondo Days 2016, set for July 12-16, marks the thirty-third year that neighbors, former residents and Minnesotans who know very little about the history will gather for the celebration sponsored by Rondo Avenue Inc. to revel in the music, dance, food and camaraderie that reflect the triumph of hope. The event is just one of several initiatives fueled by the creativity, energy, and vision of community leaders. http://www.rondoavenueinc.org

Rondo Days visitors will enjoy the event more if you can appreciate the roots and reasons the for grand celebration!!! And if you can’t make it to Rondo Days, the virtual visit will inform you about the history Minnesotans share, but may not know. The story of Rondo challenges all of us to “accept finite disappointment, but never lose infinite hope.”

So many stories, so many resources – following are just a few learning options:

To get a geographic fix on the Rondo neighborhood, click on this City Pages link: http://www.citypages.com/news/st-paul-map-shows-how-i-94-cut-through-heart-of-citys-african-american-neighborhood-6541556

To get a “feel” for the original Rondo you might want to start here:

  • Read Evelyn Fairbanks’ Days of Rondo, published by the Minnesota Historical Society in 1990 — ebook and audio book versions are readily accessible
  • View the video of Evelyn Fairbanks strolling and sharing her memories of the neighborhood with historian Hy Berman – though both Fairbanks and Berman have died since the video was produced their lively discussion and keen memories bring Rondo to life! http://www.mnvideovault.org/mvvPlayer/customPlaylist2.php?id=16134&select_index=4&popup=yes — the Rondo piece is just 27 mins long but you’ll want to watch the entire River, Railroads and Rondo video, a delightful historic overview of highlights of the Capitol City.

 To dig deeper into the stories of Rondo explore some of the many options including, but definitely not limited, to these:

  • Walk the neighborhood with MHS staffers to discover the secrets of Rondo. Though a last minute post indicates that “Neighborhood Secrets Walking Tour” is sold out, you might want to check just in case – http://www.mnhs.org/event/1349
  • Keep up with the latest on Rondo Days 2016 by faithfully checking the official website – rondoavenueinc.org

Earlier this month the St Paul Pioneer Press posted an informative – and supportive – editorial reviewing the past and offering a glimpse into what’s next for Rondo. It’s a must read: http://www.twincities.com/2016/06/01/editorial-rebuilding-around-rondo-values/ The editorial, based on an interview with community leader Marvin Anderson, cites several ideas; some fall under the “infinite hope” categpru while others are works-in-progress. The design is on the boards and a July groundbreaking is set for a commemorative plaza at Concordia/Old Rondo Avenue and Fisk Street. http://rondoavenueinc.org — (scroll to “commemorative plaza). Co-founder of the Rondo renaissance, Anderson, who retired Minnesota State Law Librarian in 2002, is just one of the leaders and lifetime residents who waste no time on “finite disappointment.” Instead, they harness their collective strength to get up and do what needs to be as they share emulate MLK’s vision of “infinite hope” for their vibrant neighborhood and for the Capitol City.

* * * *

Personal note: Many of us who learned or taught in the Rondo community “back in the day” were painfully aware of what was happening to our neighbors. Though some of us may be post-peak for the revelry, we celebrate Rondo Days in our memories and in our hearts. We want to learn more about the Rondo neighborhood as it was – and as it will be.   We rejoice as character, health, knowledge and good judgment – fueled by infinite hope – honor the past and shape the new Rondo community! My sincere hope is that the spirit of the historic building at 355 Marshall will bolster the rebirth of Rondo. Though the school closed decades ago there’s residual gumption behind that stern façade.

Minnesotans Reflect on the US-Dakota War of 1862

The Indians wanted to live as they did before the Treaty of Traverse des Sioux – go where they pleased…hunt game wherever they could find it, sell their furs to the traders and live as they could.  Big Eagle, Mdewankanton, 1894.

 When I was very young we would visit the farm in McLeod County where my mother grew up. There was a marker in the field and a mystery about the place.  It was said that this was where Little Crow fought and died – I have wondered but never really wanted to know the truth. 

Later, for a decade, I worked in a library that literally overlooked the spot in Mankato where the 38 Dakota Indians were hanged in 1862.  Again, I retreated from learning more than the minimum.  I never even paused in my hundreds of trips along Highway 169 to visit the Treaty Site History Center at Traverse des Sioux near St. Peter.

In a word, I have always resisted knowing the truth about the US-Dakota War of 1862.  The truth was too painful, too much.

The Minnesota Historical Society makes me face the facts – at a pace and in myriad ways that force me to make an effort to internalize the reality of what happened 150 years ago and to comprehend the ways in which the US-Dakota War of 1862 shaped the world in which we live.

The hallmark of the MHS exploration of our history is the multi-dimensional art exhibit that opened June 30 at the Minnesota History Center.  The exhibit grapples with the conflicting interpretations of events and encourages visitors to “review the evidence and determine for themselves what happened and why.” 

And there are special programs coming up soon that offer opportunities to further explore the facts and the stories.  The first is July 18, 7:00 p.m. at the Minnesota History Center.  The free program is an introduction to the US-Dakota War and its impact on the making of Minnesota.  Mary Lethert Wingerd, author of North Country: The Making of Minnesota, will participate in that discussion.

This is followed the next week by a program entitled “We Are Still Here: Minnesota is a Dakota Place.”  This free program is July 25, 7:00 p.m. also at the Minnesota History Center.  Gwen Westerman, Dakota artist, poet and scholar, will share her perspectives on the modern Dakota people and their place in Minnesota’s history and culture.

Other free and open public programs at the Minnesota History Center follow in coming months.  There will be a Dakota Family History Class on September 11 and a Dakota Family Day on September 29.

The learning opportunities virtually flow forth from the generous Minnesota Historical Society and the Minnesota History Center.  The travel guide to Minnesota sites related to the Dakota War is an itinerant learner’s treasure trove.  Even the homebound can vicariously experience the reality of the War and the devastated people who were – and are – affected.  Every Minnesota has an opportunity and a challenge to physically or mentally travel the land where people lived and died, where the war itself caused such pain. 

Mobile guide in hand, visitors have entrée to and descriptive information to stop at learning resources ranging from the Historic Fort Snelling to Traverse des Sioux near St. Peter to the Birch Coulee Battlefield near Morton to the Harkin Store in New Ulm to the Lower Sioux Agency near Redwood Falls and Fort Ridgely State Park near Fairfax..

And then there are the virtual learning opportunities. The wealth of print, audio and video digital resources gives the armchair learner the facts and stories – and time to think about the implications. 

The Minnesota History Center is the principal among countless Minnesota initiatives to help us all understand – or at least think about  – the US-Dakota War of 1862.  The website in particular is a guide to the myriad initiatives that abound in organizations, communities, colleges and libraries, museums and more.

Discover the magnificent Minnesota History Center in real time and place at 345 Kellogg Boulevard in St. Paul, just across from the State Capitol where the 19th Century saga continues.  Or explore the institution’s virtual presence on the Minnesota History Center website, on Facebook or on Twitter. Or call 651 259 3000 for more information about the US-Dakota War of 1862.

 

 

Celebrate American Archives Month!

The very term “archives” conjures images of dust and decay accompanied by acrid aromas and tended by bespectacled history geeks.  All wrong.  And anyone who has ever explored family or house history, faced a legal dilemma, or wondered about local lore has had a brush with paper, digital or other archives.

 

October is American Archives Month, a season to be celebrated by the most tempero-centric – a time to think for a minute that those preserved photos, clippings, stories, public records and more didn’t just happen but have been collected, organized, preserved and made accessible through the deliberate and committed work of individuals and the commitment of institutions. 

 

At the time of the Minnesota Sesquicentennial I skimmed the state’s archival surface to compile a random list of irresistible lures to the world of archives.  Over the years I’ve tweaked it a bit – and was amazed to find it posted (sans attribution) on the Minnesota Coalition on Government Information website.  I have not checked to see if the original was edited by that group.

 

For some time I have wanted to share this listing and concluded that American Archives Month 2011 might be a propitious opportunity to resurface the whimsical list, slightly pruned and otherwise modified – not significantly updated because the month is just too short for a serious revision.

 

Many of the materials and descriptions here are accessible online; the print listings suggest a link to digital options. Because the digital resources offer an absolute minimum of the preserved record, we need and always will need multiple access options. Though digitization is growing at an exponential rate, its main contribution is to lure the armchair searcher into a passion to know more and to make the minimal effort to learn more.

 

This random list is absolutely arbitrary and whim-biased  with links to minute bits of Minnesota history.  Each of these guides, descriptions, stories was prepared by a Minnesotan, an organization or a state agency that cared enough about the state’s stories to collect, preserve, organize or otherwise help create the legacy.  Not everything is digitized or on the web – websites are just the most accessible right now.  These sites exemplify the ways in which Minnesotans have used the public records to plumb the depths of their particular interest or passion or legal encounter. 

 

Tending to the record of Minnesota is a collective responsibility and a public trust.  It takes personal conviction, time, talent and public support.  Without these and hundreds of thousands of other records, carefully organized and preserved, the Sesquicentennial would signify the passage of time rather than the values, the experience, the public record, and the recognition that access to information is at the very core of the democracy we share.  The challenge of today is to embrace that principle so that 21st technology enhances access to the building blocks and expands the embrace of this diverse, informed and sharing culture.

 

The disorganization is absolutely arbitrary – draw no conclusions. The omissions are legion.  Though a comprehensive and authoritative list would be a wonderful tool, the universe of possibilities is well nigh infinite and digitization is having a daily and profound impact on the possibilities. 

 

Pick a topic, probe a bit, and pause to think a bit about why and how we  preserve the data and the stories of our state.  Some places to start, bearing in mind that each of these tools reflects the commitment and labor, past and continuing, of an archivist and, in many cases, an institution:

 

Minnesota Archives, Minnesota Historical Society – MHS, along with several state agencies, is taking a lead at the national level in preserving the state’s own information digital resources.  It’s a monumental undertaking that does Minnesotans proud!  The depth of resources and the collaborative efforts of state agencies deserve an American Archives Month commendation. 

 

Minnesota Reflections, an overwhelming and growing collection of documents, photographs, maps, letters and more that tell the state’s story – a great starting point for any age.

 

James K. Hosmer Special Collections, Hennepin County Library – actually a collection of collections on topics ranging from Minneapolis history to club files to World War II and Abolition.  Much is digitized but, as always, that is but the tip of the iceberg – a tip worth checking out however.

 

Minnesota Place Names; a geographical encyclopedia, by Warren Upham.  A classic, originally published in 1920 and now available on line through the Minnesota Historical Society.   Overflowing with wonderful stories. 

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West Bank Boogie.  If you were around in the 60’s and 70’s you’ll be reminded – if not, see what you missed!  Cyn Collins is the collector and storyteller.

 

Holland, Maurice, Architects of Aviation, 1951.  William Bushnell Stout 1880-1956.  One man’s determination to record the stories of our aviation history.

 

A knack for knowing things: Stories from St. Paul neighborhoods and beyond, by Don Boxmeyer.  BiblioVault.

 

The Cuyuna iron range – Geology and Minerology, by Peter McSwiggen and Jane Cleland.

 

Ron Edwards, The Minneapolis Story Through My Eyes: A Renaissance Black Man in a White Man’s World. Continued by a bi-weekly column from The Minnesota Spokesman-Recorder  and a TV show on Channel 17.

 

Center for International Education (The CIE) – a self-proclaimed “media arts micro-organization” the goal of which is to “make poetic media with people of all ages from all over the world.”  Videos including interviews with Robert Bly, Tom McGrath, Jim Northrup, Frederick Manfred and documentaries on Eugene McCarthy, Paul Wellstone, Robert Bly, and much more. The world of Media Mike Hazard.

 

Alexander G. Huggins Diary and Huggins Family Photographs, Collections Up Close.  This is just one of numerous podcasts and blogs describing in depth the individual collections of the Minnesota Historical Society.  Re-live the day-to-day travels of this mission family in Minnesota 1830-1860.  Just a sample of the podcast/blogs from MHS.

 

Minnesota Tobacco Document Depository – built as part of the settlement with Philip Morris, Inc. et al.  26 million pages of documents.

 

Frances Densmore  Prolific writer and chronicler of the cultures of the Dakota and Ojibwe and other Native American Tribes.  Densmore also recorded over 2,000 wax cylinders of Native music.

 

The Jean-Nickolaus Tretter Collection in GLBT Studies, University of Minnesota Libraries.

Ramseyer-Northern Bible Society Collection.  The largest non-seminary Bible collection in the Upper Midwest.  Donald J. Pearce, Curator.

Rhoda Gilman, historian extraordinaire,  The Story of Minnesota’s Past, just one of several books by Gilman.   “The Dakota War and the State Sesquicentennial” is a more current blog representing her ongoing contributions to preserve and elucidate Minnesota’s story.  Google Rhoda Gilman for more glimpses of her writings over the past several decades.

 

Evans, Rachel.  Tribal College Librarians Build Map Database, Library of Congress Info Bulletin, Oct. 2002

The Archie Givens, Sr. Collection of African American Literature, University of Minnesota Libraries.

Perfect Porridge.  A good compilation of the TC’s Electropunk scene and lots of information about what’s happening on the broadly-defined media scene.

 

Saint Paul Police Historical Society, Saint Paul Police Oral History Project.  One man’s (Timothy Robert Bradley’s)  passion shared with the public.

 

William Watts Folwell,  Though  Folwell was best known as the first President of the University of Minnesota from 1868-1884 he moved on from that post to serve as professor of political science and continued as University Library until 1907.  The Folwell family papers, 1898-1944, can be found in the U of M Archives.

 

This Sister Rocks!  Thirty years ago Joan Kain, CSJ wrote a small book Rocky Roots: Three Geology Walking Tours of Downtown St. Paul.  The book, which  resurfaced during the 2006 International Rock Symposium, is now being edited for reissue by the Ramsey County Historical Society.

 

Lowertown, a project of the St. Paul Neighborhood Network, interviews artists who live, work and exhibit in Lowertown St. Paul.  The website also provides links to the websites of the individual arts.  A rich celebration and close-up view of this area’s art community.

 

Park Genealogical Books are this community’s specialists in genealogy and local history for Minnesota and the surrounding area.  Their list of publication includes how-to’s on genealogy, research hints and unique assists for anyone working on Minnesota genealogy, records and archives.  The life’s work of Mary Bakeman.

 

Fort Snelling Upper Post is a labor of love on the part of Todd Hintz.  Todd offers an historical timeline, a description of the current situation, wonderful photos by Mark Gustafson and an intro to related resources.  Great for anyone who cares of preservation of Fort Snelling.

 

Minnesota Historical Society, Oral History Collection.  Pioneers of the Medical Device Industry in Minnesota.  A sample of the rich oral history collection of the MHS.

 

Scott County Historical Society, Stans Museum.  Minnesota Greatest Generation Scott County Oral History Project.

 

Haunted Places in Minnesota.  Scores of deliciously spooky sites you’ve probably visited – but never will again – without trepidation.

 

Minnesota Museum of the Mississippi. Postcards and lots of memorabilia that tell the story of the river.

 

Special Libraries Association.  MN SLA: Early Chapter History (1943-1957)

 

Land Management Information Center – zillions of maps and mountains of data, plus people to help.

 

Minnesota Legislature, Geographic Information Services – maps of legislative and congressional districts, election results, school districts and much more.

 

Minnesota State University, Moorhead, Library.  Maps and Atlases – great guide to government produced maps and atlases

 

Minnesota Public Records Directory.  A commercial listing of Minnesota’s public records sources.

 

Minnesota Senate Media Coverage – live and archive coverage of Senate floor sessions, committee hearings, press conferences and special events.

 

Minnesota Office of the Revisor of Statutes – statutes, indexes, rules, drafting manuals and more.

 

Minnesota State Law Library, Minnesota Legal Periodical Index.  A practical guide prepared by the state’s law librarians.

 

Minnesota Historical Society Press, Minnesota History.  Quarterly publication featuring original researched articles, illustrations, photographs and other treasures from the MHS.

 

The Civil War Archive – more than you ever needed to know about the Union Regiment in Minnesota.

George, Erin.  Delving deeper: Resources in U’s Borchert Map Library, Continuum 2007-08. description of the massive resources of the U of M’s Borchert Library.

Shapiro, Linda.  Art History Goes Digital..   Description of the digitizing initiatives of the University of Minnesota’s collections.

 

Drawing: Seven Curatorial Responses.  Katherine E. Nash Gallery.  Curators’ perspectives on the challenge of organizing and make accessible this one art format.

 

The Minnesota Alliance of Local History Museums.  A forum for peer assistance among over fifty county, city and other local historical societies.

 

Minnesota Historical Society Collections Up Close.  Beautifully illustrated podcasts about what’s new at the MHS.  Regularly updated.

 

The Tell G. Dahllof Collection of Swedish Americans, University of Minnesota Libraries.  The collection encompasses American history seen from a Swedish perspective, the history of Swedish emigration to America, Swedish culture in America, and general descriptions by Swedish travelers to America.

 

University of Minnesota Media History Project, promoting media history “from petroglyphs to pixels.”

Ten Years of Sculpture and Monument Conservation on the Minnesota State Capitol Mall, compiled by Paul S. Storch, Daniels Objects Conservation Laboratory, Minnesota Historical Society.  Just one of dozens of similar conservation studies you’ll find at this site.

Bureau of Land Management, General Land Office Records.  Live access to federal land conveyance records for the public land states.  Image access to more than three million federal land title records for Eastern public land states issued between 1820 and 1908.  Much more!

Minnesota History Topics, a list of Minnesota-related topics to get you thinking about exploring Minnesota history.

 

Minnesota Government, an excellent guide to state government information sources compiled by the Saint Paul Public Library.

 

Minnesota History Quarterly.  Publication of the Minnesota Historical Society Press.  Available as subscription or with membership.  This one sample will give you the flavor, but there are lots more where this came from!

 

Revisor’s Office Duties – publications duties.  The Office of the Revisor of States covers many bases, particularly during the legislative session.  This list of publications offers a good overview of the Revisor’s domain.

 

New!!  Library Search, now in beta test phase.  A web interface for locating print (including articles), databases, indexes, electronic, and media items. Try it out and offer your unique feedback!

 

Geographic Information Services, State of Minnesota.  Includes scores of interactive maps of population, election results, school districts, legislative districts and more.

 

Children’s Literature Research Collections (Kerlan Collection), University of Minnesota Libraries, Special Collection.  A unique and inspiring collection of books, illustrations, manuscripts, notes and other records of children’s writers and illustrators.  The Kerlan also offers a robust series of presentations by children’s authors, writers and critics. 

 

Family History Centers in Minnesota.  One small component of the massive resources of the Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints.

 

Historic Museums in Minnesota.  Prepared by the Victorian Preservation of Santa Clara Valley.  An amazing resource with tons of information and in incredible wealth of links.  They offer this self-deprecating introduction:  “This is all pretty high tech for a bunch of people living in the past, but then you probably know our valley by its other name, Silicon Valley.”

 

Minnesota History Along the Highways, compiled by Sara P. Rubinstein.  Published by the Minnesota Historical Society.  Locations and texts of 254 historic markers, 60 geologic markers, and 29 historic monuments in all corners of the state.

 

Ramsey County Historical Society, the officially-recognized historical society of Ramsey County.  The Society’s two primary programs are the Gibbs Museum of Pioneer and Dakotah Life and the quarterly magazine on Ramsey County history and St. Paul.

 

The Regional Alliance for Preservation, formerly the Upper Midwest Conservation Center at the Minneapolis Art Institute.

 

Minnesota HYPERLINK “http://www.dnr.state.mn.us/lakefind/index.html” Lakefinder, sponsored by the DNR, provides in-depth information about 4500 lakes and rivers in the state – surveys, maps, water quality data and more, including a new mobile app for the water or ice-based fisher.

 

North American Immigrant Letters, Diaries and Oral History, a database including 2,162 authors and approximately 100,000 pages of information re. immigration to America and Canada, 1800-1850.  Produced in collaboration with the University of Chicago by Alexander Street Press.

 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                          Finding Aids to Collections Organized by Topic in the Archive of Folk Culture, compiled by Ross. S. Gerson. Minnesota Collections in the Archive of Folk Culture.  Library of Congress.   Sound recording in various formats.  You won’t believe the recordings they have preserved. The American Folklife Center

 

Minnesota Spoken Word Association, formed to create an alliance among spoken word artists and a resource center. Emphasis on youth.

Orphan Train Riders

Through stage productions, video and countless personal reflections most of us know something about the experiences of the Orphan Train Riders.  Beginning in 1854 and continuing until 1929  as many as 200,000 children were put on West-bound trains where they were sent to live – with mixed results – with new families in new homes.  The stories of these children, well recorded in numerous reports, are compelling.  Their descendents are estimated at over 2,000,000.

Thanks to committed individuals including an indefatigable Orphan Train Rider, Sister Justina Bieganek, OSF, the stories of Minnesota’s orphan train children are reflected, recorded and retold with love and care.  And each fall Orphan Train Riders and their descendents gather at the St. Francis Center in Little Falls, Minnesota, to remember.  Midst hugs, tears, laughs, scrapbooks, performance and good food, the stories unfold in a warm and wonderful celebration of tough times, good times, lives lived and survival.

One good story begins in 1913 when a 22 month baby arrived in Avon, Minnesota on the Orphan Train where she was met by John and Mary Bieganet who knew her only as child No 41.  The little girl was given the name Edith Peterson.  That little girl, now a nonagenarian, picks up the story.  “In 1929,” she notes, “two good things happened — the Orphan Train stopped and I entered the Convent.”  To be sure, in 1929 the young Edith Peterson joined the Sisters of St. Francis Little Falls where she took the name Sister Justina.

Among her many commitments over the past decades Sister Justina has played a key role in keeping the stories of the Orphan Train Riders alive.  In July 1861 Minnesota was the first state to carry out a gathering of Orphan Train Riders.  It all started when two Orphan Train Riders from North Dakota discovered their common heritage.  They decided that “if there are two of us, how many more shells in the ocean can we find?”   Starting with an ad in area newspapers, the region’s Orphan Train Riders met, reached out, and created a tradition that continues today with an annual gathering at the Franciscan Center in Little Falls.

This year, Sister Justina and her colleagues share the day with special relish. On Saturday, October 2, 2010, families, friends and interested persons (including “interested persons” Suzanne Mahmoodi and me) will gather for the 50th Celebration of Orphan Train Riders of New York (the generic name for the Riders groups).  A special feature of this year’s reunion is presentation of The Story of the Orphan Train, a one-woman show created by professional actress Pippa White of One’s Company Productions.

Impossible as it is to capture the spirit of the reunion, there are many ways to share the story.  Sister Justina herself is profiled in print and has created a 40-minute DVD in which she shares her experience of riding the Orphan Train from New York to central Minnesota.  Information about that video is available through the Sisters of St. Francis (info@fslf.org).   Among the several websites devoted to the Orphan Train Riders are many that are state-specific,  maps, statistics, personal reflections, contacts and more.  There is also a great website offering quick links to scores of educational resources and projects.

The story of the Orphan Train Riders offers a close and clear reminder of our relatively recent history rich with challenges, choices and consequences.  Long-time historian of Minnesota’s Orphan Train Riders Renee Wendinger has created an excellent up-to-date collection of articles by and about the Orphan Train Riders replete with original newspaper clippings, details re. the railroad depots, geograhic distribution and more   For a list of Minnesota’s Orphan Train Riders, check here.  Many thanks to Sister Justina and to the many Orphan Train Riders and their progeny who tell the stories, whether replete with pain or happy memories, stories so far and yet so near.

Presses Keep on Rolling at the Great Minnesota Get Together

Photo of a man at a large printing press

Geezers and geeks alike have a chance to capture the sounds, the smells and the stories of Minnesota’s newspapers at the Minnesota Newspaper Museum.  You’ll experience the process of mid-1930’s era news production when Linotype, letterpresses, and a maze of mechanical and manual tools kept Minnesotans up to speed on everything from the weather and the economy to matters closer to home, including weddings, funerals, births and out-of-town visitors.  Scores of volunteers, including many retired newspaper men and women, are more than pleased to demonstrate, explain and even share hot off the press souvenirs with all comers – especially the young who’ve never seen a working letterpress or elders who stop to reflect on the influence of Minnesota’s vital newspaper industry in their lives.

The Minnesota Newspaper Museum, opened in 1985, reflects the commitment of newspaper leaders to their profession.  Earlier this summer past presidents of the Minnesota Newspaper Association pooled their resources, including their normal mileage and pre-diem allowances, to make a generous contribution to the Museum.  Their largesse echoes the spirit of Bernie Shelrud, publisher of the Maynard News, who kick-started the Museum;  in 1984 Selrud sold his letterpress shop and all of the equipment so Minnesota State Fair-goers could remember and learn about hand set lead type and the mechanics of getting the news readers to throughout the state.

This year the story of the Museum and the work of letterpress printers are part of a film being produced with Legacy funds.

Stroll through Heritage Square to the far end where you’ll be treated to a lively learning experience, a great chat with a printing pro, a copy of the day’s newspaper produced right before your very eyes on a letter press that rolls 9-8 every day of the Fair.  Free and open to all, whether you can still smell the ink of the morning’s paper or whether you depend on Twitter for the news that matters.